Koalas could be tourism booster

WITH the preservation of urban koalas high on the local political agenda, Lismore City Council's acting tourism co-ordinator Andrew Walker reckons it may be more a case of the iconic critters bolstering our tour-ism industry.

The council's koala plan of management for south-east Lismore is now on public exhibition.

It endeavours to help what is believed to be the largest urban population of koalas in NSW co-exist with townies and farmers long into the future.

The self-confessed koala lover sees a huge future for the famous marsupial in Lismore, but says we are only at the infancy of that potential.

"I'm hoping the plan will help ensure the current koala population levels will continue and include a tourism perspective to that, because tourism in a lot of cases is about educating people about our environment and what we find in it," he said.

"I have high hopes it will lead to an increased under- standing and respect for our koalas, which would inevitability lead to increased conservation.

"It's very important that everyone who wants to put in their two bob's worth does so and it's important people are aware of the plan itself.

"I think many people in Lismore aren't aware that we have such a substantial koala population."

Mr Walker said one of the most popular tourist brochures (put out by Friends of the Koala) was Finding Koalas.

"It's a great all-in-one brochure which has a great map in the middle that shows all the points in and around Lismore, highlighting the places where people can see koalas," he said.

"It tells people how to put their detective hats on to find koalas; it talks about scratchings on the bark of trees, shows you the scats, gives you a bit of information about the bullet shape (of the scats/droppings) and how big they should be etc.

"Tourists love it."

Mr Walker said koalas were much easier to find in Lismore and more could be done to attract tourists.

"We've still got some way to go attracting the tourists and we're putting out a new visitor guide this year, so we've already started discussing how we can better utilise the koala," he said.

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